Saturday, December 12, 2009

Let's Not Meet Again

Every Christmas, I take Amtrak from Washington DC to Vermont for the Holidays- it costs a fortune to fly up there, and the weather is too iffy for driving. I enjoy Amtrak for the most part, especially now that it's possible to plug in a laptop and watch films or play games to kill the time.

Unfortunately, not everyone on the train is capable of passing the time quietly. More and more often, I find myself distracted by people who are determined to use their travel to update pretty much everyone on the planet about what is going on with every fricking detail of their "lives"- and not by texting either. But by phoning. And phoning. And phoning.

Last year on the way up I sat across and several seats down from a middle-aged woman who called four different people over the span of two hours and regaled each with the story of how This Guy at Work keeps Stabbing her in the Back with the Boss. She used almost exactly the same words in each conversation, including the phrase "that's the society we live in, I guess." She also told everyone she called about the difficulties she was having with her digestive tract infection, and how she warned her family ahead of time that she wasn't going to be eating the Christmas Dinner they had planned, but was instead restricting herself to strawberries and yogurt.

By the time she was on the fourth telling, I was at the breaking point (so was the poor woman in the seat next to her, who was fidgeting and holding her head in her hands in bored despair.) I finally yelled across to her "We've HEARD this story already, it wasn't interesting the FIRST THREE TIMES!" The Middle-Aged yakker turned around sharply and barked "I don't give a shit!" (But within a few moments, she'd put her phone away, and it didn't come out again until she departed the train in Connecticut.) I got more than a few silent "thank yous" from the other people in the car.

Why am I telling this story? Because I think I know who this woman's name is now. Her name is Jen, and she's being celebrated in this most recent Comcast Commercial. We see a very animated woman with a cell phone glued to her skull blathering on and on about pretty much anything that pops into her otherwise empty head, while the narrator tells us "Here's Jen. She can take an hour to tell a five-minute story. But that's ok, because she has Unlimited Talk and Text from Comcast..."

Jen continues to yak about half a dozen unrelated subjects before pausing to say "Wait, where was I going with that?" Narrator: "It doesn't matter where you were going with that, Jen..."

No, it doesn't matter where you were going with that, Jen. I can only hope that you aren't going up North with that next week, or if you are, you aren't taking Amtrak. Because I had more of my fair share of your witless, clueless, selfish gabfest last Holiday Season. I don't want an update on your work situation, that guy who stabs you in the back, or your digestive tract issues which require your Strawberries and Yogurt diet. I don't give a flying damn about any of that, and my guess is, neither do my fellow passengers. Just because you CAN talk nonstop, doesn't mean it's always appropriate to do so.

Just the society we live in, I guess.


  1. Just because you CAN talk nonstop, doesn't mean it's always appropriate to do so.

    That's for sure; we not only don't need to hear about Jen's bowels, her keeping silent would mean that she'd have to recharge less often and thus help keep our landfills free of old batteries.

  2. Seriously- what did people do before it was possible to yak or text away on a cell phone 24/7? Did they just never leave the house, for fear of being "out of touch" for a few minutes or hours at a time? Are people so frightened of being alone with their thoughts that they must ALWAYS be talking to someone about something, or texting, or staring at some streaming video? What pathetic little nothings we are all becoming.

  3. Maybe they're afraid that they don't have anything to think about. Rather than deal with the silence inside their heads, they fill their lives with noise.

  4. Had I been on that train with you, jjamele, I would have applauded you for your comment. :)

    Recently, I was waiting for a dental appointment, and a young woman in the waiting room had, inexplicably, arrived two full hours before her appointment time. For some reason, she had apparently decided she'd spend that two hours chit-chatting on her cell phone. She was definitely a "Jen." 0_o